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Munich joy is something Els


Ernie Els. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

Ernie Els. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

Ernie Els. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

ERNIE Els claimed a wire-to-wire victory in the BMW International Open in Munich by one shot from Thomas Bjorn as he continued his preparations to defend his Open title next month.

The South African, who won last year's Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club – 10 years after his only other victory in the major at Muirfield – carded his third consecutive round of 69 to finish 18-under-par.

The veteran birdied the fifth, sixth and eighth holes of his final round before a bogey on the 11th pegged him back. Another birdie on the 18th, however, was enough to clinch his 28th European Tour victory and his first at this event.

"It's been a long while," Els said after being presented with the winner's trophy.

"It's been wonderful. I've had a great weekend in Germany and tried a long time to win this golf tournament. I made it pretty tough for myself again.

"Thomas (Bjorn), my playing partner, was playing great and I was watching the kid (Alexander Levy) but he looked like he stumbled coming in.

"I stayed with the basics. It's great to get my name on this wonderful trophy."

Els admitted the win, which he secured after leading all the way through the event from his first-round score of 63, is a great boost ahead of The Open, which begins in Muirfield on July 18.

"Obviously it gives me a lot," Els said.

"Wire to wire you've got the pressure and every night you've got to sleep on it.

"This is quite a week for me. There were a lot of strong players in the field. I'm really looking forward to Muirfield."

Bjorn and Els had both been on 17-under-par with six holes remaining with France's Levy a shot further back.

Austria's Bjorn had moved into the overall lead following three consecutive birdies on the third, fourth and fifth holes.

His chances were derailed, however, following a bogey on the 11th and a double-bogey 14th, which three more birdies on the back nine were unable to salvage.

France's Levy finished in third place on 16-under-par, two strokes behind Els, who has now climbed back into the top 15 of the official rankings from 20th place following this victory.

Austria's Bernd Wiesberger, Martin Kaymer and Alex Noren finished three shots behind Els in a three-way tie for fourth.

Shane Lowry rounded off his weekend with a superb final-round 65. The Clara man finished the tournament seven shots behind Els and was left to rue a disappointing third round 74, which saw him drop out of contention.

Peter Lawrie and David Higgins finished two shots behind Lowry after both carded final rounds of 71.